Preparing Pilgrims for the Camino Ignaciano

Preparing people for the Camino Ignaciano 2022 has been a joyful experience for me. The word camino in Latin means path or way or road. The famous camino is the Camino de Santiago, which is an ancient pilgrimage network of paths and roads that pilgrims travel on foot to reach the destination of the Cathedral de Compostela. The Camino Ignaciano (“Ignatian Way”) is another pilgrim route of 640km taken by St Ignatius from Loyola to Manresa. You can read more about this HERE. The difference between this pilgrimage and the “original” is that this has an added silent retreat component of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius enclosed within the camino. This contemplative component makes it unique.

My role in the Ignatian Journey team together with Matthew Chen, is to prepare people for a more fruitful experience of this walk. Obviously, physical conditioning is part of this process, so the team has organised a series of monthly walks beginning with easier walks to more challenging ones, as the pilgrims approach the date of their departure in September and October. Learning to walk with the Ignatian dictum of finding God in all things is the other thing we hold space for them to cultivate during these organised walks. 

Thus far, we have had four practice walks and I have begun to meet wonderful people who love the Lord and hope to experience Him through this camino. They are all of different levels of physical fitness, with a few apprehensive if they would be able to keep up. I am confident they will be able if they keep having regular lengthy walks outside of the organized walks. While doing this, they can continue to learn to be more fully aware of God’s presence all around them and to enjoy God’s many bountiful gifts of His creation and man’s.

I am enjoying it because my years of hiking and prayer experience is both being used by the Lord to help prepare these people for their camino. I enjoy getting to know a few of them and to hear some of their stories. I like it when I see these friends bathed in perspiration, or relishing the fresh forest air and birdsong. In addition, I can feel the sense of achievement and anticipation building up among them with each practice walk. It is a joy to see them greet and share stories with each other, months before they walk together in the cool but sunny weather of Spain in September.

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